Whitesburg KY

Old coal mine still gushing water


Water continued to gush from an Appalachian mountainside on Monday, two days after breaking to the surface in what is known in the industry as a blowout.

Ricki Gardenhire, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, said the flow had diminished to about 24,000 gallons a minute by Monday afternoon, down significantly since Saturday night when local residents first noticed the torrent spilling from an abandoned Bledsoe Coal Corp. mine near the community of Chappell in Leslie County.

“The public is not at risk,” Gardenhire said.

The mine had closed in the 1970s and water had been building up inside over the years.

Gardenhire said engineers had originally had underestimated the flow at 10,000 gallons a minute on Saturday. Additional calculations Monday showed the flow at more than twice that amount was flooding into Robinson Creek.

Gardenhire said the results of water quality tests are expected in the next day or two. Initial tests showed elevated levels of suspended metals, largely naturally occurring iron, said Paul Rothman, spokesman for the state Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Rothman described the water as clear with some suspended metals in it, and said samples of water had been taken for testing.

The state Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement cited Bledsoe Coal for the blowout.

An old, inactive slurry impoundment and a fresh water impoundment are located over portions of the old mine, but aren’t leaking into the mine.

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